Part of Makeup on Empty Space, curated by Kristan Kennedy

WEST COAST PREMIERE: In Thomas’ most recent project, Distance is Not Separation, she takes us back to what it means to be a femme black person growing up playing on the street corner, waiting till the street lights came on, the street lights being a signal for the darkness coming. Both a symbol and warning sign for ones safety. The last moments before the call and response between mother/parent/queer family and child: “It’s time to come home, I’m coming.” Thomas investigates the black femme body in relation to the athletic body, thinking about value and skills. Thomas rethinks and rebalances how we see and observe sports imagery, the labor and value of craftsmanship, the hairdresser, the janitor, the ‘exotic’ dancer, and how language constructs and transcribes symbols onto the black femme body.

Keijaun Thomas creates live performance and multimedia installations that oscillate between movement and materials that function as tools, objects and structures, as well as a visual language that can be read, observed, and repeated within spatial, temporal, and sensorial environments. Her work investigates the histories, symbols, and images that construct notions of Black identity within black personhood. Thomas examines, deconstructs, and reconstructs notions of visibility, hyper-visibility, passing, trespassing, eroticized, and marginalized representations of the black body in relation to disposable labor, domestic service, and notions of thingness amongst materials addressing blackness outside of a codependent, binary structure of existence. Thomas earned their Masters degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Thomas has shown work nationally and internationally in Los Angeles, CA; Portland, OR; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; New York, NY; Miami, FL; and Taipei, Taiwan; Paris, France; Mexico City, Mexico; Santiago, Chile; and the United Kingdom. Thomas was an artist-in-residence at PICA as part of the Creative Exchange Lab program in Fall 2015.